October 1, 2012 by blogmasterjdeam
The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
The days are growing shorter quickly here in the Northwoods. The leaves have turned and are falling. The autumn is so brief, but always my favorite time of year.
Mary Oliver asks, in the poem above, an important question: “what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” I ask myself this question often, especially now that I’m on the leeward side of this life.
I spent about a year or so living in Taos, New Mexico. I volunteered at the NKB Ashram and Hanuman Temple. It was an amazing ride. There were many opportunities to “look at” my stuff. In the end, I took away the knowledge I would never do accounting again.
I had way too much ego wrapped up in that gig! The other problem with me and accounting is it is so EXACTING. For me, everything to do with accounting must be perfect … there is no “close enough.” (As an aside, when Mike and I had our business, I might be up late at night unable to balance our checking account. Even if it was off a penny, the penny must be found because it means there is an error somewhere in there that might be bigger and must be fixed. As a joke, Mike would come over and put whatever amount of money I was off by, on top of the computer, saying “Here, now you can call it good and come to bed.”)
The other problem with that perfection thing is that it tended to bleed into the rest of my life, so that I demanded perfection everywhere. I became so obsessed with everything needing to be perfect that perfection took over my life: the bed must be made perfectly immediately upon rising in the morning; my hair must be styled perfectly; every person in my life must fit my example of perfect. Can you see how awful this becomes?
The people who are able to leave their jobs at work are to be admired. We have to do something to make a living, but for me, that something needed to be NOT one of my triggers. I do have a lot of triggers (to unhappiness) and slowly they are being revealed so I can do the work on them.
On the introductory page of my blog, Matt Enos gives an excellent quote by Thomas Merton. When I read it, I was immediately struck by how far off I was in my assessment of love, but how absolutely right that assessment is. I have gone into the idea of love thinking, well, this is great, but maybe this over here needs work … I am probably the only person in the world who has done this, so read no further if this doesn’t apply to you.
The thing is, there is no such thing as perfect (not even in accounting.) We live in a messy, out of control, whirlwind, upside down, backward world that makes absolutely no sense. When we try to make it perfect, all we do is make our own life, and the lives of those who, for whatever crazy reason, got stuck with us, harder than need be. I, for one, have to learn to stay in the middle of the river, to avoid the rocks and the tree limbs and just float. (Thank you Olivia.) We can’t push the river. All we can do is float down the middle with as much mindfulness as we can find at that moment.
I am aware this talk of mindfulness may be starting to get on your very last nerve, but it is me who needs to get this. Me who needs to not try to know what is best for someone else. Me who needs to not judge someone else’s karma. Me who needs to love with reckless abandon. Me who needs to practice and practice and practice being in this very moment. If it is you coming along for the ride with me, then all the better.
I don’t know about you, but for me I intend to make something of this one wild and precious life.
With reckless abandon, Chris